Thinking Big: Sprint Cup title on Keselowski’s mind after Food City conquest

11:04 am | March 20, 2012

It’s one step at a time for Brad Keselowski.

Photo by Danny Davis - Brad Keselowski waves the American flag as he performs a victory lap Sunday at Bristol Motor Spedway.

The face of Roger Penske’s Sprint Cup organization is ready to challenge for a Sprint Cup championship, and Sunday’s Food City 500 victory at Bristol Motor Speedway has the blue deuce headed in the right direction.

Photo by Danny Davis - After rolling to victory in the Food City 500, Brad Keselowski lets the good times roll in Victory Lane.

Citing the success of past Sprint Cup champions at the track, Keselowski feels Bristol is the ultimate gauntlet in testing a team’s morale and his success.

“This place defines a race team,” Keselowski said after his trip to victory lane. “It asks so much of you, whether it’s practice, dealing with the noise and the havoc on pit road or, as a driver, 500 laps in a bowl trying to keep your composure. … This place can really test a team. To win championships you have to be able to overcome, adversity so it’s a defining race track in that sense.”

Keselowski dodged the big one early and worked his way from fifth position to the front of the pack, leading four times for 232 laps on the half-mile.

Using successful pit strategy, Keselowski stayed atop the field and fended off a battle from Matt Kenseth on the final two restarts to deliver his second-straight Cup win at Bristol.

“(Sunday), my team certainly delivered,” Keselowski said. “It was good. Great pit stops. … It’s tough racing that requires so much discipline mixed with aggression. My guys, they made it happen.

“I told somebody, this was the best race car I’ve ever had in Cup and hopefully we’ll win some more races with it.”

Keselowski had plenty of motivation heading into the race after NASCAR installed new pit road time lines after his win last August, which saw the driver take advantaged boost his pit marks with legal bursts of speed rounding the turn between the back stretch and front stretch.

“I got on Twitter and kind of got PO’d at some people that said I won it because of the timing line,” Keselowski said. “I knew this blue deuce was fast enough to win the race last fall with or without timing lines. It feels so good to just prove it here today in the spring race.”

The driver has proven that he can contend at Bristol with two of his five career victories at the track. Now it’s onto the next challenge and taking the momentum into a run for the Sprint Cup title.

“One win is good, two wins is really good,” Keselowski said. “We need to keep winning races to lock ourselves in the Chase, but heck, I’d rather just go into the Chase in the top spot. If we run like we have the last few weeks we’ve got as good a shot as anybody else.”

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